The symmetrical shape of paper lies still, cold,
Unmoving in my hands.
You ask for it. You say you can make it look pretty.
So I trust you.
Gingerly, gently, I let the piece of paper fall into your outstretched palm,
And your skilful, expert fingers are at work with it,
Folding, creasing, bending, shaping.
You hold it back out to me. In your palm, lies a small flower.
At which point I reach for it, to take it back, but you throw it into the air
And it dissipates, like a box of confetti.
Falling through the air, small pieces gently drifting.
I hold my hands out, ready to catch them
But they transform.
Into fluttering butterflies, the fragility of their paper wings
Unhampering. They fly, they float around my face,
Tickling my cheek. One lands on me.
You gently gather them all up into your palm
And clasp your hands together tightly.
I am sad the butterflies are gone.
But you open your hands once again and my longing for the winged beauties
Disappears. Your hands are empty.
Where has it gone? You hold out both hands to me, show me you don’t hold it
I scrutinise you, search you, beg you to find it.
You have lost it.
We are quiet for a long time. I wish for the flower, the confetti, the butterflies.
I want them all back. But I know
I cannot have them.
Then you smile. Reach towards me.
Uncurl the fist bunched tightly in my lap.
And there, worn, folded, bent.
Is the piece of paper which I gave you.
Worn by the time, the stress.
Folded by the way in which you handled it.
Bent by the crushing of my fist.
So I let it fall to the floor, unwanted, unused
But you reach into your pocket and take out
An identical piece of paper to mine.
And then suddenly I know,
That you had never lost it. And I never gave it to you either.
Because you had it all along.